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“Perfect cameras for wildlife photography”

E-M1 Mark II • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS PRO • f7.1 • 1/2000s • ISO 800

I was invited via Olympus by Hokkaido tourist board to participate a photography tour to Hokkaido – which is the northern most island of Japan and one of my favorite wildlife photography destinations in the world. I love Hokkaido and I accepted the invitation with great pleasure- since this would be my 10th visit to this beautiful island!

E-M1 Mark II • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS PRO • f8 • 1/500s • ISO 800

E-M1 Mark II • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS PRO • f9 • 1/1600s • ISO 800

ProCaptured Steller´s Sea Eagle

We went to Notsuke-hanto peninsula where we photographed the perched Steller´s Sea Eagle.

Other photographers went close to Eagle and he was very confiding individual. I stayed behind and waited that Eagle will fly, since I saw that this was perfect opportunity to take photos when Eagle decide to fly – wind and sun both came from the same side.

All the bird photographers know how difficult it is to capture the right moment when bird start to fly, since it is always difficult to predict when bird will takeoff. Olympus ProCapture function is one of the best features in OM-D E-M1 Mark II cameras in my opinion. With Olympus you will not miss takeoff of even the smallest birds anymore! When you are in situation when bird is sitting on perch and it may start to fly – select the ProCapture H function and focus to the bird and half press the shutter. Camera starts to take photos with amazing speed of 60 fps with no sound at all! With the new firmware camera will circulate up to 35 images up to one minute while half pressing the shutter.

E-M1 Mark II • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS PRO • f11 • 1/1600s • ISO 800

E-M1 Mark II • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS PRO • f11 • 1/1600s • ISO 800

After you will actually see that the bird start to fly press down the shutter and camera will save all the 35 images (about 0,58 seconds) before. You don´t have to hurry with pressing the shutter at all and you will get all the wing positions of the bird starting to fly. Only disadvantage with this shooting speed is that you can only use single autofocus, but it is so fast shooting speed that you will get many sharp images of one takeoff. You can make beautiful slideshows of the birds starting to fly and it looks like slow motion movie, but all the images are raw files and you can make each of them as large exhibition prints on the wall.

Click here to play this video

Lower or higher – photography angle makes a huge difference

Photography (=shooting) angle is one of the most important things in bird photography. This is especially so because chosen shooting angle affects what you get as a background of the bird. Quite often the best angle is eyelevel with the birds, since in this way the background will be further away and the bird will stand out in the image very well.
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II has a swivel screen and it helps me to shoot low angle. One can also use the screen for focusing and releasing the shutter! This is a great help when shooting low angle, since you don´t have to look through the viewfinder and you don´t have to force your hand to difficult position while taking photos. With my old camera system I used to use angled viewfinder for the low angle photography, but with that one it is very difficult to follow moving subjects and almost impossible to photograph flying birds! It is also hard work for your neck to photograph with angled viewfinder. Swivel screen is a much better option and you can just kneel down and place your camera on to the ground to be able to shoot low angle photos.

E-M1 Mark II • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS PRO • 1.4x Teleconvertor • f9 • 1/2500s • ISO 800

Remember that very often the most boring shooting angle is when you stand up and photograph downwards the bird which is close to you on land or water. In this case you will get the sharp water or ground as a background and the bird is blending to the background. In these cases it is much better to go low and get to the eyelevel with the bird. When the shooting distance increases and length of your lens grows, shooting angle will also change and it is not so important to get quite so low. Bird on a snow, on colorful water or interesting colored or patterned ground makes a difference to the background and it is not so essential to photograph really low angle. One might be able to get better bird with reflection on water images from little higher level.

E-M1 Mark II • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 300mm 1:4.0 IS PRO • f7.1 • 1/2500s • ISO 800

If you have a possibility to photograph from higher shooting angle, this could give you nice backgrounds as well. So, if you have a chance to photograph from a tower or roof, hill or mountain you might be able to get interesting backgrounds. Especially well this higher angle suits to the “bird in a landscape” type of images.
I have learned that with Olympus camera you can photograph with incredibly slow shutter speeds just by handholding your camera and you still get really sharp images! This is the perfect camera system to combine sharpness and movement in your images.

 

Camera for traveling photographer

I have learned that traveling photographers have a common problem- their camera bags are always too heavy to take as a hand luggage to the airplane. I used to have the same problem trying to hide my camera bag so that the officials would not weight my hand luggage. It was always a very stressful experience and not a good start for a long journey. But now I have been photographing and traveling with Olympus for about 1,5 years and I must admit that this camera gear has changed my life! In January I was on photography commission to Hokkaido and this is a photo of my Olympus camera bag.

Olympus camera bag with all the needed equipment for Hokkaido photography tour weighted 8.85 kilos at Haneda Airport at the ANA counter and they were happy to accept this bag as a hand luggage!
By the way – please remember to pack all the camera batteries in your hand luggage! If you put your batteries to the luggage hold in your suitcase they might be taken away by officials!
Now I can actually take all the needed lenses to the photography spots and can quickly change from different shooting angle to another one. The fact that I now carry three camera bodies with different lenses on each of them gives me much more variable photos from one shooting location than I use to get. Very often in field I carry two OM-D E-M1 Mark II camera bodies on double sling strap – other one with M.Zuiko Digital ED 300 mm F4.0 IS PRO and other one with M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150 mm F2.8 PRO – and I am ready to shoot all the time. One camera with shorter lens e.g. M.Zuiko Digital ED 12-100 mm F4.0 IS PRO is in my camera bag and it is also easy to pick up for wider shots and for handheld videos.
It is much quicker to shoot by handholding your camera and you can change the shooting angle much quicker compared if you would be shooting with heavy and bulky 600mm F4 lens and heavy tripod.

All in all – in my opinion this is the perfect camera for wildlife photographer! Weight and size of the camera, amazing shooting speeds, really good continuous autofocus and the image quality are definitely good enough for all my needs! 

E-M1 Mark II • M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 12-100mm 1:4.0 IS PRO • f9 • 1/640s • ISO 200

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    "Only disadvantage with this shooting speed is that you can only use single autofocus, but it is so fast shooting speed that you will get many sharp images of one takeoff. "  But, surely, this mode is using digital shutter and, for all it's advantages in some situations, it must surely be inappropriate for flight photos because (a) EFFECTIVE shutter speed is slow, and (b) large rolling shutter distortions will be visible? So, I'm not sure how 'sharp' they would be -  is that correct Jari??

  • To Anonymous: You will get very sharp images of flying birds with ProCapture H with fast enough shutter speeds and rolling shutter effect with OM-D E-M1 MarkII has very little rolling shutter distortions because of very good processor of the camera.  

  • Anonymous
    Anonymous

    Jari, Thanks. out of interest, what is the effective shutter speed when using electronic shutter, which is what you are using when you use ProCapture? Is it really fast enough for bird flight. For example, the 1/1600 sea eagle won't actually be 1/1600 I believe? Unfortunately your images here won't enlarge to let me see the actual resolution. Love the camera and agree it's great for wildlife (I have one) on other settings!

  • I would welcome seeing the high speed video.  However, Quicktime is not supported by Chrome and even IE11 and Edge refuse to display or play it :(

    Edit ~ I have found that I could download the movie for viewing 'locally'. Such high speed shooting is certainly a useful tool, though if you had shot at normal 18fps electronic shutter or even 10fps mechanical shutter would you not have gotten some very usable frames???

  • I only have the OM-D-EM10 mark ll with 14-150mm f4-5.6. Can I photograph birds in flight with this combination? So far I have been shooting only landscapes and street photography.

  • @cabbydave

    yes you can shoot birds with your combination (10.2 with 14-150) - recommended settings: S-AF (C-AF is with E-M 10 Mark II not really useable) and highspeed shotting (H). So focus on the bird you want to shoot and shoot short bursts.

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